WMC Women Under Siege

#CongoWomenSpeak: Photos from the ground in DRC

The war in Congo is like a snake. Sometimes it slithers by and you see it and feel terror; other times, it hides in the trees, waiting.

Everywhere I traveled in the country with the Nobel Women’s Initiative in February, I felt that ever-present fear—and exhaustion from so many years of being either attacked or on the lookout.

Women have experienced sexualized violence on an unimaginable scale—and the stories we heard involved crimes like prolonged sexual slavery and severe internal injuries like fistula from the violence. Both women and the men they live with are trapped in severe poverty as militias and the Congolese army continue their roving waves of destruction, killing farmland and making things like having potable water and upward mobility impossible. The government appears to be in denial (a DRC Embassy staffer I spoke to in Kigali, Rwanda, said that there are “only very isolated incidents” of abuse by the army, which is well known to be killing and raping en masse throughout the east) and corruption seems to exist at all levels.

It is the most vulnerable who suffer the most in any conflict. And in Congo, the most vulnerable are women, long treated as an afterthought or unwanted by many men in their country.

Below are some photos I took on our trip that hopefully show multiple aspects of what I’m talking about here. (Please click on the bottom right corner of the slideshow to make it full screen.)

To read Wolfe's last #CongoWomenSpeak reports from the ground, click here and here.

More articles by Category: Gender-based violence, International, Media, Violence against women
More articles by Tag: Sexualized violence, Rape, Africa, Congo, DRC



Lauren Wolfe
Journalist, former director, WMC Women Under Siege
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